According to Wikipedia, millennials are vaguely defined as those born between 1980 to the early 2000’s. Our generation is mostly marked by technology savviness and a lifestyle built around various social media platforms.
Our generation is also characterised as a little lost and confused. I don’t deny it. Most of us rarely have any concrete plans for our future. We’re constantly hovering between trying to make ends meet and living it up without really getting to where we want.
To the the baby boomers or the generation before them, we are the strawberry babies who are entitled, inconsiderate, too liberal and constantly glued to our phones. However, if you stop to think about it, the frustration and hate directed at this generation stems from a fear of change.
The Singaporean millennials represent yet another impending wave of transformation. We are a visual icon of the discomfort that comes with change.
Our parents and grandparents have experienced the transformation of our little red dot in a short span of 50 years. They can appreciate our city skyline better; but they are also constantly living in reverie. Their kampongs, homes, shop houses and food have either changed beyond recognition or have simply disappeared.
Already Singapore has evolved beyond recognition, it is only natural for our predecessors to feel uncertain about another bout of change.
We talk about the millennials having social media as the ultimate tool but we never learnt about it in schools. Computers and codes are the core of our generation, yet writing and counting is the main focus in our curriculum.
When millennials push for an overhaul on our school system, Singapore worries about compromising the quality of education. However, millennials have suffered from the disparity in our syllabus and the working world.
Changing the curriculum to accommodate relevant topics like basic financial literacy, presentation skills and computer knowledge (beyond the basic use of Microsoft excel) is not a compromise; it’s an improvement from whatever we have now.
On top of the education system, millennials have been increasingly involved with matters of the state.
Many of our parents and grandparents found comfort in PAP’s leadership. They had blind faith in the government because they trusted Lee Kuan Yew. Many believe that since it has worked so far, why fix something that isn’t broken?
With Lee Kuan Yew gone, millennials don’t have the luxury of being passive. The new generation of ministers are a blind bet but we know that new leadership is also an opportunity to address our concerns. Our future in Singapore is at stake and we’re not afraid to talk about it.
With the power of social media which grants us an unfiltered voice to challenge the status quo. Our dissatisfaction and suggestions are no longer confined to wet market gossip or meet the people sessions. Equipped with an ability to transform our grievances into Facebook statuses, we don’t need a middle man to talk to our government.
Social media is characteristically millennial, but let’s not forget the societal changes we go through.
Growing up alongside the pink dot movement, most of us have friends or acquaintances with a different sexual preference. This is the era where homosexuals have a voice.
It is also during our time that a safe zone for victims of sexual assault was established. Now they can seek help and support on various platforms regardless of what they were wearing.
While we pursue gay rights and campaign for mental health awareness, we come across too liberal and unconcerned with what’s ‘right’. We are accused of having a faulty moral compass. On the contrary, millennials have strong sense right and wrong, but we abide by our own system of values.
It is no longer okay to laugh at a limp wrist boy or a girl with a buzz cut. You shouldn’t tell someone who is depressed, “that they just need some rest.” Gone are the days where it’s acceptable to scold a sexual assault victim for dressing promiscuously.
Societal norms have evolved just as we’ve aged. Kindness and good deeds were the ultimate point of enlightenment when we were kids, but inclusivity and acceptance form the new moral high ground. Of course it’s a struggle for our elders to accept this new mind set.
In The Years To Come
Our fight for an evolved Singapore will continue to warrant dirty looks from the generations before, but I’m confident in what we’re doing. I can only hope it amounts to something – just as how the baby boomers gave us a clean and modern country to live in.
As the butt of everyone’s critics and jokes, we must not subject generation Z to the same fate. Let’s stop the generational hatred. No more mocking our juniors for having less of a childhood because of their tablets.
We must not fear the change that comes with the upcoming generation of youths. We must be willing to lend them the support when it’s their turn to lead the nation.
I am a proud millennial. Are you?